Holy Week(s)

The week before Holy Week I experienced the dynamics of Good Friday, Black Saturday and Easter Sunday in a church Classis meeting. We addressed a broken relationship as we sat before the cross hearing cries of sin. For 24 years, people had lived on Saturday in the brokenness and pain. We were given the opportunity to express Easter, reconciliation, new life, hope, celebration. 

Often Holy Week is largely like most others, perhaps with family or added worship services, but not necessarily holy. I encourage you to live each week as Holy Week. The Gospel of Mark slows down to tell the week day by day.

Palm Sunday (Mark 11:1-11)
On this day Jesus symbolically entered Jerusalem as a king on a donkey, not horse power. We can reflect on our sense of power, our expectations of success, and join the pilgrimage prayer and praise song, “Hosanna, Lord, save us.”

Cleaning Monday (12-19)
Monday is a day of frustration and house cleaning. The fig tree is cursed for bearing no fruit. Economics has corrupted the temple. It has lost its purpose. Let Sunday’s prayer on Monday bear purposeful fruit for all nations.

‘Woke’ Tuesday (20-13:37)
Tuesday is a long day. It starts with a challenge to faith and questions of authority. Who is Lord of life? Who owns the company, us (capitalism), Caesar (socialism), or the Son? What is the end – competition, conflict, destruction and poverty; or seeing the coming of the Son of Man in power and glory? See the signs, be woke to injustice, work for peace, and proclaim the gospel.

Anointing Wednesday (14:1-11)
On Wednesday we are still in the middle of economics. Can what we have be used to anoint the king? Here is the question of the use of our resources, especially our wealth. We see the thing, not the person and the purpose, and react indignantly in judgment. We crave the power of money. Money is an anointing; use it as a gift to bless others with anointing oil.

Maundy Thursday (12-72)
Maundy means “commandment.” The name comes from John’s Gospel, “A new command I give you; Love one another” (13:34a). Mark pictures this love given and broken on Thursday. Jesus lovingly invites his disciples into a new covenant through the meal, but it is broken by weakness, betrayal and denial. Peter’s threefold denial can only be overcome with Jesus’ threefold question and command in John 21. “Do you love me?” “Feed my sheep.” Love each other.

Good Friday (15:1-47)
Friday drives us to the question, “Who is king?” Who rules my life and world? We stand on trial. We stand before the choice. Is this the Son of God, the servant of God, the suffering way of God? Confess your wrong ways, means and goals and profess God’s. 

Black Saturday (15:48-16:3)
All we know of Saturday is waiting and watching in darkness and silence. Jesus in the darkness of the tomb. His followers in the dark of despair and silent questioning. Confront the darkness and questions in your own soul, “Who will roll the stone away?” Wait and watch. 

Easter Sunday (16:4-8)
Easter means the shining of the eastern dawn light from Eostre, the Anglo goddess of Spring. There is light, but far more than the annual renewal of Spring The stone is rolled away. There is the announcement, good news, life. Not all is done. Not all is resolved. There is still fear and failure, but there is a new way. Renew your goals, renew your hope. Be resurrected to new life.

New Monday (16:9-20)
Mark’s Gospel seemed unfinished. It is. Matthew, Luke and John needed to say more. It seems that others borrowed these stories to add to the end of Mark. We are still adding to the end of the story daily. Walk your days in holy weeks.  

  • Rev. Tom Wolthuis is a minister in the Christian Reformed Church and the Director of Geneva Campus Ministry at the University of Iowa.

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